The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg

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“One of America’s finest writers.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Concentrated bursts of perfection.”—The Times (London) “Shimmering stories that possess the power and charm to move us.” —The New York Times “Exhilarating.”—Harper’s Magazine “Outstanding.”—Christian Science Monitor “Eisenberg simply writes like no one else.”—Elle “Eisenberg’s stories possess all the steely beauty of a knife wrapped in velvet.”—The Boston Globe “Dazzling.”—Time Out New York “Magic.”—Newsweek “Comic, elegant and pitch perfect.”—Vanity ...

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The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg

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“One of America’s finest writers.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Concentrated bursts of perfection.”—The Times (London) “Shimmering stories that possess the power and charm to move us.” —The New York Times “Exhilarating.”—Harper’s Magazine “Outstanding.”—Christian Science Monitor “Eisenberg simply writes like no one else.”—Elle “Eisenberg’s stories possess all the steely beauty of a knife wrapped in velvet.”—The Boston Globe “Dazzling.”—Time Out New York “Magic.”—Newsweek “Comic, elegant and pitch perfect.”—Vanity Fair “One of the great fiction writers living in America today.”—The Dallas Morning News “There aren’t many contemporary novels as shudderingly intimate and mordantly funny as Eisenberg’s best stories.”—The New York Times Book Review

Since 1986 with the publication of her first story collection, Deborah Eisenberg has devoted herself to writing “exquisitely distilled stories” which “present an unusually distinctive portrait of contemporary American life” to quote the MacArthur Foundation. This one volume brings together Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), All Around Atlantis (1997) and her most recent collection-Twilight of the Superheroes (2006).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“One of America’s finest storytellers has been anthologized: The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Picador) locates elegant symmetries in uncertain lives navigating uncertain times.”



“Sarcastic, self-aware, and often wickedly funny…. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Eisenberg’s stories is the ease with which she captures the fearful excitement of being human, and our reluctance to acknowledge how little our circumstances have to do with our own decisions.”

—Rachael Brown,


“If you haven’t discovered Deborah Eisenberg’s beautifully crafted short stories, this is a good choice, because you will want to read and reread them all. These stories are rich and delicate, and linger in the memory to shift and amplify their values. Eisenberg’s subtle, intelligent observations put readers in the best company.”

—Prairie Lights Bookstore


“What is it like to be a genius? Ask Deborah Eisenberg. The question is not as hyperbolic as it might seem; last year, Eisenberg was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, usually referred to as a ‘Genius Grant’. If that award served to spotlight Eisenberg’s achievement as one of America’s foremost writers of fiction, this new volume of collected stories confirms it, illustrating that over the past 25 years Eisenberg has become better and better at the things at which, 25 years ago, she was already something of a master….”

—Belinda McKeon, Irish Times


“This season, I chose four books of stories to read and recommend. At the top of my list—and highly recommended—is The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg.”

—Ann LaFarge, Hudson Valley News

Library Journal
Readers who have enjoyed Eisenberg's four volumes of short stories or grown familiar with her work in The New Yorker over the past 20 years will be thrilled with this substantial collection, which demonstrates the full range of her talents. These satisfyingly lengthy stories also have the potential to engross readers who avoid the genre, having been left hanging one too many times with lazy, enigmatic endings. Eisenberg is equally at home with artsy Manhattan social comedy (see "Flotsam," from Transactions in a Foreign Currency and "Some Other, Better Otto," from Twilight of the Superheroes), Jamesian narratives that characterize complex relationships in gracefully balanced long sentences (see "A Cautionary Tale," from Under the 82nd Airborne), politically savvy stories that capture differences of race and class through the perspective of American transplants in countries like Honduras (see "Broken Glass," Transactions, and "Someone To Talk To," from All Around Atlantis), and clear-eyed stories that nevertheless reveal the disjointed perceptions of characters with tragically damaged psyches (see "Window," Twilight). VERDICT This impressive volume celebrates the prodigious talent of a writer who deserves to be better known.—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
Jean Thompson
This collection contains in their entirety the four books of stories Eisenberg has written over a 20-year span…The resulting book weighs in at just under a thousand pages: heavy lifting but not heavy reading. Although the stories explore different geographies and different lives, there is more consistency throughout than variety. Those who admire some portion of Eisenberg's writing will find the same pleasures in the whole: remarkable language, unconventional story­telling and her characters' well-­rendered and profound unease at inhabiting an uneasy world…Eisenberg conveys their interiority in such a fine grain that one thinks of Virginia Woolf, if only Woolf's work were leavened with startling humor…
—The New York Times
The Barnes & Noble Review

For the past month, Deborah Eisenberg has slowly brought my reading habit to a surprising standstill. I dove into this fat, wonderful collection like a man in a hot dog eating contest. No one writes the kind of strange, deeply intuitive short story that Eisenberg writes. You wouldn't know it from the heft of this volume, but she doesn't write them very often either. Maybe a story a year. So very quickly I began forcing myself to put the book aside. I'd stop to look at her author photo.

Anything to slow down the moment when there were no more left. The end was near. Then it was very near. And then I had to stop. If I kept on I'd be caromed out of Eisenberg's world and back into, well, something else. And I was not ready for something else.

I also was not expecting to have this reaction. Eisenberg is America's poet laureate of neuroses, a blackly comedic metaphysician of altered states. Hardly the sort of thing one wants in bulk. Her heroines -- and many (but not all) of her characters are women -- struggle to figure out apartments or men or jobs. Their vague disappointment and friction with life is so isolating they try to resurrect themselves with drastic maneuvers. In one early story, "Days," a woman slowly puts her broken life back together, one lap at a time around the track at a Manhattan Y. She worries about her attire, her running form, the comments of men huffing by around her. She is constantly one step away from quitting. Sleep beckons to her as a cool, dark hiding place does to a child.

If many of the people in this book were in my life I'd want to shake them heartily. Or I'd spend several months attaching jumper cables to my chest, hoping to save them. Here on the page, though, they are deeply lovable, so keenly presented it's hard not to wish for their safe passage with all the force one develops while reading a novel. In the beginning of Eisenberg's career, this had everything to do with her voice. All the stories that appeared in her 1986 book Transactions in a Foreign Currency are told in the first person. Each involves a youngish woman facing a drastic turn in her life, struggling to see round the bend. The voice is sharp, fresh, and intimate, full of winningly sly asides on tube socks, the difficulties of buying sausage, and the ineluctable mystery of lovers.

Eisenberg crawled out of the colluding skin of the first person with that collection though and, by and large, has not looked back. She has kept a high, tight hilarity in her prose, however, using it to play in a wider range of keys. The tales of Under the Eighty-Second Airborne yank her characters out of their spiral of narcissism, flinging them around the world and back, and later still Eisenberg's stories acquire a resolute, hard-won kind of wisdom about disappointment and tenuousness that, even when repeated, story after story, does not lose its power.

In "Rosie Gets a Soul," this collection's shining gem, a recovering drug addict discovers that she will need to make peace with a life without highs and lows. "Yes, this was where she lived; this barren, icy planet was where she lived now." It's not all the same, though. No matter what age we are. And no one paints the ice floes -- the fjords, the crackling fissures and plunging crevasses -- like Eisenberg.

--John Freeman

John Freeman is the editor of Granta magazine.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312429898
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 992
  • Sales rank: 400,478
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Eisenberg is the author of four collections of stories. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has taught at the University of Virginia since 1994, where she is currently a professor of creative writing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    i had to adjust my glasses a hundred times, but when i finally was able to read this book, i almost started to cry with joy that i had finally found anything related to its message.

    Amazing story that i have waited to read for what seems like a life time.... and i havent even finished reading the first chapter. Nothing short of miraculous that i found it all actually, ive been searching through librarys of information to find even one letter of one word from the author. But let me make it clear, I want this book in my collection permanently and if i have a choice that is exactly where it will be. I have to get back to reading now, i stopped when i realized i had finally found what i so desperatly have been looking for. Many more books to read.... and reviews to write.

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